Sen. Roger Wicker must be anxiously watching the Tea Party blitz against fellow Sen. Thad Cochran. The two senators have much in common.
For example, until they were banned by House Republicans, Wicker’s record for delivering earmarks was second only to Cochran’s. The Tea Party claims earmarks were a major factor in escalating deficits. They weren’t, but the claim is pervasive.
Wicker has been a recent champion of bipartisan deal-making. In July he called for concessions by both parties to avoid the “nuclear option” rules change Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid had proposed to thwart Republican filibusters. Additionally, as a member of the Senator Budget Committee and, thus, a participant on the House-Senate conference committee charged with recommending a compromise budget by mid-December, Wicker told The Clarion-Ledger:
“The public expects us to show that we are problem-solvers, and they want a result. And, I hope that is something we can deliver on in a bipartisan fashion.”
The Tea Party, however, considers any bipartisan deals as “sabotage by weak Republicans.” When Cochran voted for the bipartisan deal to reopen government, the Tea Party called Cochran “pathetic” and said he “continually votes against the wishes of his constituents.” Wicker also voted to reopen government.
It’s clear that the Tea Party prefers inflexible dissidents of the Ted Cruz breed rather than negotiator statesmen of the Cochran and Wicker style.
Conservative writer George Will recently described how James Madison, father of the U.S. Constitution, intended our government to work:
“Madison created a constitutional regime that by its structure created competing power centers and deprived any of them of the power to impose its will on the others.” This system of politics, said Will, forces politicians “to bargain and collaborate.”
“Recently Washington has been tumultuous because politics, as the Framers understood it, has disintegrated,” said Will.
How ironic that the Tea Party says it champions the Constitution while at the same time promoting politicians who would destroy its intended operation?
It appears that the Tea Party prefers politicians who rant, shut-down the government, and hold the economy hostage while those who created our Constitution preferred politicians who negotiate, restrain government, and keep the economy on a path to growth.
Indeed, the practical solution to our deficit and debt crises is to restrain the growth in government spending (including Medicare and Social Security) while increasing the growth of our economy (which would generate more tax revenue).
Brinksmanship and shutdowns hinder growth; negotiated long-term restraint would spur it.
Heretofore, Wicker and Cochran – as did their predecessors Trent Lott, John Stennis, and Jim Eastland – have followed the path our Founders intended.
Which path do Mississippi voters prefer?
Roger Wicker, whose next election is in 2018, will be watching closely.
Bill Crawford (email@example.com) is a syndicated columnist from Meridian.